Qnap and Buffalo are the new kids on the block. TivX was the veteran and has been around since early 2000. Their latest model can play everything Qnap or Buffalo can…and probably much more BUT for a premium. That premium is definitely beyond my budget eventhough their prices have dropped drastically due to cheaper competitors. However, seeing that you appear to be interested in Buffalo, then I would think you can probably afford TivX too.
Anyway, the one I am currently using is actually quite good and surprisingly it’s the one and only Made-In-China product I would highly recommend to anyone. For a measly HK$799 (no HDD version) the Noontec V8 supports all major media formats and plays 720p/1080p very smoothly even from across the network and from a USB HDD (I use a USB cradle). After using it for over 4 months now, I have only noticed one minor bug playing 480p videos through component cables. But you will probably not experience this when using HDMI and playing HD videos . It’s UI has WiFi but I don’t think it was fully implemented, at least not configurable (yet) and not mentioned in their manuals or on their advertisements.
Apart from the Noontec, there are a wave of other cheapo Made-In-China products that claim to support WiFi and their ads look very promising. I don’t remember the name of these devices but I am sure if you buy any local computer magazines you can see a few ads.
Prior to Noontec and TivX, I used both a standard Windows 2000 Pro and XP Pro (including Windows XP Meda Center) to play downloaded videos (connected to a 42″ Plasma TV) and they really suck big time! I definitely cannot recommend any serious movie viewer to watch video from a PC. Watching DVD is ok but watching downloaded 16:9 DivX/XviD/H.264 videos was terrible.
The Qnap lacks RMVB support. Required if you download a lot of Asian TV dramas or movies. Otherwise useless! It also doesn’t support NTFS.
The Buffalo Live is just a NAS box – HDD with network.